Yorkshire’s Fictional and Real History of Vampirism

In what is easily the most famous and well-loved vampire tale, Yorkshire takes centre stage both in name and inspiration. Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula remains the epitome of vampire fiction, with Dracula himself arguably the model for the archetypal vampire figure.

Dracula’s time in Great Britain in fact begins when his ship crashes along the coast of Yorkshire. This mention of the English county is just one example of the crucial part Yorkshire plays in the history of vampires.

A Landmark of Vampire Popularity

Yorkshire’s Fictional and Real History of Vampirism
Yorkshire’s Fictional and Real History of Vampirism – Source: Unsplash

Dracula didn’t just land in Yorkshire for Stoker’s fictional tale. The novel actually features several descriptions of Whitby, with the centrepiece being the perfectly-selected Whitby Abbey. From one side, you can look straight across a graveyard at the prominent, gothic face of the ruined Abbey. St Mary’s Churchland, Tate Hill Sands, the West Cliff, and Royal Hotel in Whitby all play a part in Dracula’s time on the island.

Whitby therefore helped inspire one of the most iconic works of vampire fiction. The gothic, spooky atmosphere generates constant threat and horror in the book. When the book hit its 125th anniversary in 2011, English Heritage organised a gathering of people in vampire fancy dress, which ended up breaking a world record, with a crowd of 1,369 vampires. In the century since its publication, Dracula’s popularity has allowed other creatives to explore even more mythical creatures from different angles.

Of course, we’ve only recently departed from the vampire romanticism era of entertainment. Vampires were the in-thing for a long time, greatly spurred on by a certain novel series and its movie adaptations as well as the TV show True Blood. It was the most popular series on HBO from 2009 to 2012, inspiring other creatives to delve in, such as the designers of Immortal Romance did. Standing strong among new casino games, its sequel, Immortal Romance II, is all about the four main characters, their romances, and the special feature powers that helped to make the original such a hit.

The Darker History of Vampires in Yorkshire

Vampires and similar creatures of folklore and myth weren’t always taken as works of fiction. In medieval Yorkshire, people certainly weren’t immune to fears of revenants or vampires rising to wreak havoc on the community. In the long-deserted village of Wharram Percy in Yorkshire, it’s clear that bodies were dealt with in a way that would stop any such beings from coming back. 

Revenants were evil or vengeful people who would be buried but then reanimated to enact even greater crimes against the living. At the same time, creatures akin to vampires were also said to rise from the dead. As such, medieval folk did all they could to debilitate any person whose evil urges had them capable of awakening after their death. Stoker was also inspired by a book he found in a library, which recounted the tale of the 15th-Century prince Vlad Tepes, which is where his idea of wooden stakes emerged from.

Yorkshire will forever be tied to the most famous vampire in fiction, but the prominence of Dracula may mask the true fear of vampires and revenants that once swept the county. 

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